A Day in the Life of…
This feature article is a recurring series exploring interesting people, places and experiences in the Turnagain Arm region. Writers are encouraged to be creative and imaginative to go beyond traditional news reporting. Creative writing, photo essays and poetry are welcome.
By Morgan Smith
The saying goes, if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life. And for a lucky few that find that perfect job, everyday of work is a joyous endeavor. For one long time Girdwood resident, Glen Sterley, helping run Alyeska’s Terrain Park is that special job.
Born in Fairbanks and growing up surrounded by snow, he found himself falling in love with snowboarding and all that it entails. The rush accompanied by new challenging terrain, the culture and sharing that love with others kept him seeking out new ways to get involved. Not only does he help run the Terrain Park, throw contests and racing events at Alyeska, but he also works for Big Alaska, the Alaskan series of USASA (United States of America Snowboarding and Free Skiing Association).
It is a job that connects him to the world of snowboarding and its people. USASA even sends Glen to Colorado annually to help run their National Championships. His mother Alison Sterley also works for Big Alaska, connecting the two in their passion for the snow sports community.
A typical day in the life of Glen is not so typical. Most of us don’t get to wake up at 5 a.m. and hop on a helicopter for work. Heading up Alyeska and being dropped off in a special location to traverse on your board to an event tent usually isn’t how most of us start off our day. This was all for the Chugach Open Freeride Contest, one of several events that Glen helps put on for Alyeska Resort.
Once reaching the starting tent, the crew settled into getting everything prepped for the contestants and event alike, making sure everything went off without a hitch. Once set up, all they had to do was wait as the contestants made their way up the HeadWall Hike to reach the tent. Then it was game on for the contestants to start dropping in.
Bib numbers checked, judges in place, all that was left was to make the best of the harsh weather. Luckily for them, Glen was by their sides supervising the drop ins and making sure each contestant had their best chance at a successful run.
“And at the end of the day, I got to drop in and take some pow turns. The conditions were good, and it’s always fun to experience the terrain that the contestants rode. It’s the best tip I could get.” Glen spoke with a grin on his face. That expression said it all.
In that moment you truly understood how much he cared for snowboarding.
Running around 30 events a year for fifteen plus years, there are many unforgettable moments of his career. So when I asked which one stood out, there was one instance that stood apart from the rest.
“When we put on the Intellectually Adaptive Boardercross Exhibition, it is always really inspiring to see snowboarders ages 5 to 75 cheering and supporting these athletes as they participated in a new sport. That moment for me solidified why I love the snow sports community,” he explains.
At the end of the day, when work is done, Glen find’s himself peeling off extra gear and heading to grab a drink with fellow coworkers. Off to one of the local watering holes, everyone gathers to sit and exchange war stories and victories from their day. When I asked if there were any stories to add about nights out drinking with the crew, Glen just laughs while shaking his head. Then he opens up.
“There is one thing that my friends and I have been doing for years now. When we see each other, we try and be the first to flip the other person the bird. It is an interesting maneuver to pull off sometimes due to the setting we find ourselves in. Once when I was working the Terrain Park, a close friend knew I was working with younger kids and knew exactly where I’d be. So he snowboarded by giving me the middle finger and I was helpless to reciprocate the gesture. It is something that not only puts a smile on our faces, but defiantly keeps us on our toes. Just one more thing in a long line of snowboarding’s cultural moments that I cherish.”
So for now, all we need is for the snow to settle and another year of unforgettable memories to begin.